Tesla Promises Autopilot Breakthrough in 2018, Coast-to-Coast Trip Back on Radar

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Photo: YouTube screenshot
Tesla's semi-autonomous system (or maybe we should just call it "enhanced cruise control") has been receiving some negative attention lately, due in no small part to another crash which involved a Model S using the feature.
There were no casualties this time - not even any injuries, to be more exact - but it did highlight Autopilot's limitations once again as the system failed to notice a fire engine that had come to a stop on the highway to carry out its mission.

This unlucky accident was the spark that reignited people's disappointment with the slow progress on the so-called Autopilot 2.0 - the system developed by Tesla Inc. completely in-house after the break up with Mobileye in the summer of 2016.

It also reminded everyone of Musk's promised fully-autonomous road trip across the country which was supposed to happen by the end of last year, but was eventually swept under the rug in the hope nobody would notice.

Recently, the Tesla CEO took to Twitter to relieve some of the tension by announcing an update was on the way, though he didn't clarify what exactly it would address. If anything, he left the impression we were looking at something rather minor, though more important changes were also being tested.

Tesla's shareholders letter sent yesterday included some clarification on the matter, confirming a more significant update was coming by the end of this year. It read: "The upcoming autonomous coast-to-coast drive will showcase a major leap forward for our self-driving technology. Additionally, an extensive overhaul of the underlying architecture of our software has now been completed, which has enabled a step-change improvement in the collection and analysis of data and fundamentally enhanced its machine learning capabilities. Our neural net, which expands as our customer fleet grows, is able to collect and analyze more high-quality data than ever before, enabling us to rollout a series of new Autopilot features in 2018 and beyond.”

Musk also tackled the subject of the coast-to-coast trip in his conference call with financial analysts saying they could do it right now, but it would require a "custom code" to "game" a route, instead of the vehicle actually acting completely on its own. However, he revealed that he expects a demonstration of full self-driving ability to be ready in the next three to six months. Just in time for another quarterly financial report, then?
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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